Wednesday, February 19, 2014
An upgrade in lighting fixtures and heating and cooling units inside schools has saved Dorchester District Two some energy – and money.
Mary Joyce Freibert is the Energy Manager for the district, and started her work in December 2011 coming up with ways for the school to save energy within the district schools. Her energy management plan involved energy-efficient lighting fixtures and heating and cooling units.
Since implementing the plan in mid-2012 DD2 has obtained about 10 percent savings in energy consumption and over $275,000 (cost savings and avoidance) through each school’s and employee’s participation in the plan. The entire district also accumulated SCEG utility rebates of about $78,000 to date.
Lighting upgrades from inefficiency to higher efficiency may have included light emitting diode (LED) lighting or T8 fixtures – lighting that Freibert said just saves energy and money.
“LED lighting has been around for a while and it’s finally starting to take off,” Freibert said. “It has gotten a lot better with pricing of it.”
The energy-efficient lighting upgrades cost more up front but essentially save more money on the schools’ electric bills.
“We are being good stewards of our resources – being sustainable as well as being good stewards financially,” Freibert said.
New lighting retrofits at Gregg Middle School and Windsor Hill Elementary School resulted in $60,000 annual savings with energy savings of about 19 percent, Freibert said. More lighting upgrades will hopefully be completed over the summer inside Summerville High School’s and Fort Dorchester High School’s gyms. The vending machines inside the three district high schools have also received vending misers, which recognize whether the machine is being used or not in order to save energy.
Schools are also currently receiving new high efficiency LED exit signs.
“In general the schools have told they are very happy with their lighting upgrades and their lighting is better,” Freibert said.
Freibert added that schools in DD2 have sought other ways to be greener and save energy; Alston Middle School is using rainwater to feed their rain garden and Ashley Ridge High has solar panels they use to power their light.
Freibert’s mantra is “the cheapest energy is the energy that you do not use.”
“I think the school district wants to be sustainable for the kids to come,” she said. “It’s important to look out for our environment and look at the bottom line.”